Sunday, November 27, 2022

Anticipation for Jesus Birth

Anticipation gives me such joy! I love looking forward to something, sometimes I get a ticklish feeling runing up and down my spine as I anticipate something fun. It makes me wiggle and giggle.

Yet, there are times that when I anticipate something that it takes too long and it falls into the category of waiting. I do not like waiting. It makes me feel heavy and sluggish. It feels like a burden. 

I imagine the anticipation and wait for the birth of Jesus brought about both of those feelings. There were those that were so excited that they felt their spine tickle, but the wait was long. You really need to know why you are waiting to get the joy of aniticipation when it is a long wait.

Just before the birth of Jesus there were 400 years of silence from God. There were no prophets giving His messages. They had to focus on what they knew. They knew the Messiah or Savior of the world was coming, but not when. They needed to prepare their hearts to give Him room when He arrived, but didn't know the day or time. 

The last of the birth pangs before Jesus' arrival were long and laborious. The wait was hard.

Today, we start the advent season anticipating the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Christmas is such a happy time because it is when God's presence comes in human form. Christmas is the fulfillment of the Messiah's arrival. 

He came to us as a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. Heaven's gift, Emmanuel, which means God with us. We no longer are waiting His first arrival. He has arrived. He has made a way for all men to draw into the presence of God and know the gift of eternal life.

Join me in celebrating the birth of Jesus on this first day of advent. Here is the first story in our series.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Why do I model a simple telling of God's Word?

Why do I model a simple telling of God's Word? 

Is it because I don't like drama, skits, or musicals?  Not at all. Those each have a time and place for presentation. I love them and they can be a great asset in drawing someone to the LORD if done properly in the right cultural context.

If someone is hearing the Word for the first time, I have a responsibility to tell it in such a way that they hear it clearly and can repeat it clearly. I want them to be able to replicate what I have done.

A simple telling is easily reproducible. 

It is the first step of learning a story. It is the foundation of good storytelling.

When I lead trainings, I always start with how to recall a story as the first basic element. I have a responsibility as an educator to establish a good foundation to build on.

The pattern is listen, learn, share. 

When our partners observe this model in other countries, they get so excited because it is so easy to follow. I am often told "Thank you! This is so easy. We can do this!"

Often, material is presented in highly literate methods and reproducing it seems difficult. When they see our books, posters, PowerPoints, dramas, wardrobes, digital media, etc. It feels daunting because they may not have these readily available and this then makes it appear that God's Word is not accessible in their context. 

Often we do not realize how those watching us will think I must copy everything they do. This is true right down to how we dress. If I only teach with a robe on then those watching determine they must wear robes. The focus moves from telling the story to the outer appearance of the leader or even the material.

A simple telling guards the purity of God's Word and what is perceived about the role of the teller.

Once a basic storytelling is established, we will then learn how to ask good questions and model different learning styles. 

The goal of asking good questions will be to help them discover from God's Word the truths that the Holy Spirit is revealing to them in their context. It isn't about me teaching them what I know. 

The goal of using different learning styles will be to encourage the person in their context to reproduce the Word through their arts: drawing, drama, skits, music, poetry, digital media,  etc. 

The key is that they are the creator of the art form to take place not me. This lends it to be culturally relevant and reproducible in their context.

A simple telling of God's Word is foundational. If done well, then those listening and learning will immediately start dreaming about how to share it in their context. Dreams of dramas, skits, poetry, art, and digital media will be envisioned as they seek to communicate God's story to their people in their ways. A good basic telling opens the door for the Holy Spirit to unleash His creativity in them to create and tell His story well in their culture and context.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

I am in Awe of GOD!

I am reading Job with the intention to focus on what I learn about the character of God. It has added a whole new layer to my understanding of the book of Job, but also the beauty of knowing God in our suffering. 

I am asking myself to reflect on what I learn about the character of God through Job and even his friends.  If you have never studied Job, you need to understand that his friends are known for talking too much and blaming Job for His suffering. 

As I am reading Job to know God, I am focusing on HIM instead of the inadequacies of Job or his friends. I am discovering that I am walking in a deeply rich worship experience that causes me to write out prayers that are inspiring to my heart, my soul, and my spirit. And as crazy as it sounds, they often feel poetic to me. They are a beautiful conversation between me and God.

Today, I was blown away by the beauty of how God's creation displays His wonders. God sets boundary lines in creation that man cannot undo. Like the existence of light and dark. We can add light to dark but we cannot undo day and night or the pattern of their existence.

I am astounded as I ponder the crushing of the earth to form rocks that can be cut into brilliant diamonds.  Hidden treasures we can discover, explore, and even do our own creating. If we dig deep enough we find math and science revealed in these discoveries. Holding patterns and equations that give us clever beauty. 

I am in awe! I am basking in His wonderful creation allowing myself to behold His beauty as He displays His splendor for us to explore. Immeasurable. Unfathomable.  Mysterious. Consistent. Ingenious. Divine. 

I am in awe of God!

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Unconventional Ministry Podcast Interview on Story-Centric Discipleship in Bible Engagement

What a blessing! I was interviewed on Unconventional Ministry Podcast by Dennis Weins. 

My family always said I was Unconventional! LOL! 

What an honor and privilege!

Thank you Coleen Becker Black for the connection. Your introduction at the Grace Alumni Event made this possible. 

Dennis was an incredible interviewer that truly grasped the value of what I do as an oral strategist with Bible Engagement at Audio Scripture Ministries.

Feeling unexpectedly honored and excited for good fruit to be born through this podcast.

I'm listening to Unconventional Ministry | How Story-centric Discipleship Could Change Your Church on Podbean, check it out!

Unconventional Ministry Podcast

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

LORD, teach us to pray!

One time I had a friend share with me that she was diagnosed with cancer and on another occasion a friend shared a very trying time in her marriage. I found myself struggling how to pray so I asked God to teach me how to pray.

I love that the disciples had the same feeling as they watched John and Jesus pray. They knew they lacked. So, they asked!  "LORD, will you teach us to pray as John taught his disciples?"

Jesus provided a model to pray, but He also used stories to teach the importance of persistence and to trust the generosity of God.

Do you struggle knowing what to pray, too? If so, just ask Jesus to teach you how. I promise it will bless you and give you words beyond your understanding and ability to pray.

Check out the story below.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

He is Worthy of Praise because HE is Love and Truth

Probably twenty years ago, the LORD convicted me of treating Him like Santa Claus instead of Holy God. So I did a fast of asking God for anything. I took thirty days and I determined in my prayers to only praise God for what I knew about Him. 

I had no idea how this would radically change my life and how I pray. It gave me God confidence and I discovered that my prayer life was more fruitful. My faith and trust increased and others noted my prayer life. 
What started out as an act of repentance produced good fruit. I guess this is what John the Baptist and Jesus meant when they said, "Produce the fruit of repentance" (Matthew 3:8;Luke 3:8).

I am loving the slow process of writing out what I am learning about God as I read the Illuminated Bible. I first read the chapter and then as I color in it, I am listening to the Street Lights Audio Bible. I might listen to the chapter three or four times. It reveals truths I did not catch in the reading.

This week love and truth are the two characteristics that have stole my heart. God is love! God is truth! 

How might I give Him praise for these qualities? How might I repent for the lack of them? Or even repent for my family, city or nation for the lack of them? How can I encourage love and truth? 

Father, we praise You! You are the Light of the World that brings love and truth. Thank You that Your love and truth set us free. Thank You for these gifts that abound in You and are freely given to us so that they abound in us.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Lessons Learned as I Messed up Telling Ruth 1

Before we began the story of Ruth, Greg shared background information about where the story fits into God's timeline. He emphasized that Ruth happened during the time of judges when all were doing things in their own way which was contrary to God. He also shared that the Moabite nation was an enemy to Israel and cursed by God.

I took the time to explain that God chose to use a widowed Moabite to teach Israel the lesson of loyal love (chesed in Hebrew or translated as kindness in English). This is key to the story because the LORD has loyal love for us and we should demonstrate loyal love like Ruth did for Naomi. 

I then told the story twice. It wasn't until Senda retold the story back to me that I realized in both of my tellings I skipped the line where Naomi thanked her daughter-in-laws for their kindness or loyal love to their dead husband's and her and asked God to give them rest in a new marriage.

Seriously, I missed it twice even after telling them how important this is to the entire text. Ugh!

So, when Senda was done telling, I told her, "I am so sorry. I just realized as your were telling, I missed the most important line twice."  I then explained the line to her and Abel and told them where it went in this story.

I asked if I needed to retell so they would know where it went in the story. They said, "No." They got it and understood.

This is one way an oral culture and a literate culture differ. An oral culture can hear parts of a story in a circular way. It doesn't bother them for us to to say, "Oh I forgot this part. It goes here." For them it makes sense. They get it and they do not need the linear outline. Where a literate person feels that they have hurt the story if it is not linear. 

John Walsh helped me understand this by saying that we should think of it like a family telling a story at the dinner table over and over. It may not be told the same everytime because different people tell it. But the same story is told. The content is in tact, but the order may fluctuate.

I have noticed through the years that this happens as my friends in eastern cultures retell a Bible story. This can be because people from eastern cultures focus on the big picture of a story while people in western cultures focus on the details. Neither are wrong. Both are a perspective. Our perspective can cause a shift in how we hear a story and retell a story and as a trainer of cross cultures I find myself in this different perspective periodically.

Sometimes, if I do notice a mess up I will do a retelling with a story correction and then point it out or ask if they noticed I added something. With this couple, I don't need to because I know their skill level and ability to tell. 

I also provide audio recordings and YouTube recordings for future reference and accuracy checks. I also provide the drawings as a resource. These are helpful. 

The other resource that helped me better understand this ambiguity was the Bible. One year as I read through Acts, I realized that they told the story of Jesus over and over but differently each time. It was reordered with each audience and parts were emphasized and other parts removed based on who was telling and the people group. All were accurate, but a little different. 

We must remember that the Bible was first orally created in an eastern culture.  

This does not mean that we should add our commentary, devotional thought, or preach what we think it means when we are telling a Bible story. Those need to be dealt with outside of the telling of the sacred text. They have their place for explaining and helping people understand a text, but should not happen when the text is being told as a whole.  We need to keep the sacred sacred. This is why we use clear beginnings and endings when we tell a Bible story. 

Everything in the Bible is true and in Ruth, we are told...

...May God honor the telling of His Word!

A good storyteller will mess up. For me, it felt like a royal ugh!  Yet, my friend's just nodded and made the mental story correction. 

Have you ever told a Bible story and had to make a correction after skipping a part? What happened? What did you learn from it?